The box is deeply carved and appears to have been lovingly handled for centuries. The wood started as a burled dark brown, but the passage of time, and countless hands upon it, have given it a reddish patina, glowing in the light of the setting sun. The carvings are abstract; conveying a sense of power, confusion. and ancient rituals. It rests on the lap of the current owner, big enough that the large man’s arms just encircle it, tightly holding it in place. His aquiline features are weathered and ruddy. Blond hair, streaked slightly with a grey found only in storm clouds, is pulled back into a short ponytail. Beneath brows knitted together in concern, pale blue eyes watch the riders with distrust and territorial aggression as they pass by his seat.
In the bendy part of the articulated bus, there are four seats which pivot as the bus makes its way through the streets. Turning in a proscribed circle, the foursome are the maneuverable center of our massive, metal conveyance. Today, there are only two inhabitants of these seats; one to each side. Opposite to each other physically and, as I look closely, in every way imaginable.
She is petite, with sunshine in her long, blonde hair, with two tight braids encircling her head like a crown. She’s older than one would assume, with seasons in her bright eyes, and not a few lines on her face and hands. She’s dressed for the chill but for her rather dainty slipper-shoes, which sparkle in the morning light.
He is darkness. All in black from head to toe, with obsidian boots able to withstand the heart of a volcano. A black knit cap is pulled down over his eyes, and a hooded coat, in the deepest shade of midnight, completes the look. His nose, chin, and mouth, are all that are visible; with a grim set to the last, above a small, trimmed ink-black goatee.
He decides without seeing and carries the weight. She sees all and radiates hope.
Judgment and Mercy ride the 120.
Mother Nature is on sabbatical and her second cousin, Chaos, has been left in charge. While the weather goes topsy-turvy, we who are not burdened by snow and ice, continue our commute without much consternation other than a bus being packed or a stray lolly being dropped on a friend. Yes. That happened. Today, we chance upon a less crowded caravan and, through the standard stop-and-go traffic, we wend our way to wherever the 120 takes us. With a bite in the air, the heat blasts on and off, and I notice something rather remarkable. The large gent next to me, kitted out in outdoorsy work clothes, has a fragrance which I would venture to guess is not sold across the counter at the local parfumerie. He smells of the earth. Of rich soil, filled with the promise of new growth. The Avatar of Spring takes on many forms and, today, heads downtown to file an injunction against Chaos’ mishandling of winter’s end.
(A dear friend shared a picture from his commute, and I used it as inspiration for a story.)
It’s difficult. She just can’t quite make her mind focus. Thoughts move through like tumbleweeds, and she has trouble making the words match her ideas. It has always been this way. At least, she thinks it has been. Ever since…the beginning. She can remember a time of stillness; of reflection and contemplation, but only fleeting before it is lost again, like trying to catch cottonwood fluff blowing in a late summer breeze. But these puzzles help. They give her focus. If she can just keep them from getting wet. And thinking of that, she grimaces and looks to her left at her companion.
He’s always wet. Dripping. Soaking. Drenched. Nothing he can do about it, other than try and shield others from his dampness, lest they, too, become water-logged. It’s all he can do, to hang on while in motion, trying to keep his boggy self from splashing the other riders. And her. When she is near him, it’s like being run through the spin cycle on a top-line washer. He can’t do much else but apologize for getting her puzzles damp, when she brings them out of the safety of the baggie. But she doesn’t remember his contrition. And so they ride.
Getting around in winter is always tricky. But for the avatars of Wind and Rain, sometimes, public transportation is the only option, despite the frustration.